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Vitamin D plays an important role in bone health, as well as in immune, nerve, and muscle function. In addition, it may play a role in protecting against cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and depression. Most children and adults (ages 1 to 70) need 600 IU of Vitamin D per day, though older adults need a bit more.

The Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because our bodies can actually make and absorb vitamin D from sun exposure. According to the NIH, 5 – 30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 am and 3 pm twice a week to the face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen is usually enough to help boost vitamin D intake. This process varies widely depending on the season, time of day, cloud cover, skin color, and sunscreen use, so eating food sources of vitamin D (such as fortified dairy products, or some mushrooms) is also important.

If you aren’t able to get outdoors in the middle of the day or if you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough vitamin D, include these foods in your diet:

Vegan Vitamin D Food Sources

Food Serving Vitamin D (IU)
Maitake mushrooms ** 1 cup, diced 786
Portobello mushrooms ** 1 cup, sliced 634
Soy milk, original, fortified with vitamin D 1 cup 120*
Almond milk, original, fortified with vitamin D 1 cup 100*
Chanterelle mushrooms, raw** 1 cup 114
Orange juice, fortified with
vitamin D
1 cup 100*
Soy yogurt, fortified with vitamin D 150 grams 80*
Ready-to-eat cereal, fortified with vitamin D ¾ – 1 cup 40*

Vegetarian Vitamin D Food Sources

Food Serving VITAMIN D (IU)
Milk, low-fat, fortified with vitamin D 1 cup 127
Yogurt, fortified with vitamin D 6 ounces 80
Egg 1 whole, medium 41
Cheese, Swiss 1 ounce 6


Do I need a supplement?

Vegetarian and Vegan Menu Plan Book

As with all dietary supplements, it’s important to discuss vitamin D supplementation with your healthcare provider, especially if you’re vegan. Your healthcare provider can help you determine how much (if any) supplementation is right for you. Vegans may be at greater risk for low vitamin D intake, but they can obtain vitamin D from regular exposure to sun and fortified foods.

For a more guided look at how to build healthy vegetarian meal plans, check out our Oldways 4-week Vegetarian & Vegan Diet Menu Plan, which will help you create satisfying, balanced, budget-friendly meals inspired by cuisines from different cultures. The recipes are based off of the Vegetarian & Vegan Diet Pyramid and feature an abundance of delicious, healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, herbs, and spices.

Kelly Toups, Director of Nutrition


**Exposing mushrooms to UV light causes measurable increases in the vitamin D2 content; amount of vitamin D2 will vary depending on the type of light and duration of exposure.
*May vary depending on product.
All nutritional information from USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference or food manufacturer labeling.

Comments

Dulu Boruah
Very useful.
Darshil Shah
What does Fortified stand for? Is that separate product?
mmoore
Hi Darshil, thanks for the question! "Fortified" means that a nutrient was added to a food that it originally did not contain or contained in small amounts. So in this case, fortified milk means more vitamin D was added during processing. It's an added bonus because vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium.
Divad
If you believe in fortified (processed), just take vitamin D pills. If you don't (like me), get it naturally (without fortified).
Chinmay
I think, we all have the Sun. So just throw out your kids in the sun to play rather than playing indoor games. Best way to get vitamin D. The problem will only occur for people in north and South of the world which has Sunlight available for only 6 months a year.
Josh13
You don’t get vitamin D from the sun, the sun helps our bodies absorb it.
Lee1718
Josh13, the sun doesn't help our bodies absorb vitamin D. The ultra violate rays from the sun when put in contact with the epidermal layers cause a synthesizing phenomenon to occur which results in the creation of vitamin D. Here, read this: The skin is responsible for producing vitamin D. During exposure to sunlight, ultraviolet radiation penetrates into the epidermis and photolyzes provitamin D3 to previtamin D3. ... Therefore, the skin is the site for the synthesis of vitamin D and a target tissue for its active metabolite. Here's the source for that information... Skin as the site of vitamin D synthesis and target tissue for 1,25 - NCBI https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2825606
Stacy
I love outdoors and would stay out there evening to dark and I'm struggling with my vitamin d...
mmmk
research founds out that people with dark skin dosen't absorb much vitamin d as peo pole with white skin but it is true that all skin color is brown but lighter and darker for diffrent people.
AJIT KANKARIA
VERY GOOD INFORMATION
Charles
What are some trusted vegan brands that offer Vitamin D3 drops or capsules?
kelly-oldways
Hi Charles, We don't recommend one particular supplement or another. We suggest that you speak with your pharmacist, dietitian, or physician to find a trusted brand that is available in your area.
Jay
My Father is lacking in vitamin-D and we are pure vegetarian family and also he is not able to get sunshine because of his office work. So Is there any alternatives to get Vitamin-D other than medicine?
venkat
i am also victim of above question raised. pl advise.
kelly-oldways
Hi Jay & Venkat, Many popular foods, such as some milks, cereals, and even orange juice are sometimes fortified with Vitamin D. Check out the list of Vitamin D sources in this blog article for more examples. You can also make an appointment with a registered dietitian in your area, to help build a meal plan that works for you.
Not Your Momma'...
I truly believe that we are victims of our own world... it only takes about 7-15 mins in the sun (without sunscreen and perhaps a little more dependent on where you are in relation to the equator) to get enough sunlight for your body to do its job. Getting outside to roll up your sleeves, breathe some fresh air, stretch your legs and take a mindful break are all critical components to good overall health. People are too dependent on pills and supplements!! I say, spare this little amount of time each day for your health now, or allow it to accumulate and you'll be spending your days in a chemo chair or a hospital bed later.... just a thought....
1010621
I think you forget that there is such a thing called winter.... and you cannot get vitamin D through a window
Anonymous
I agree with you 1010621. And I live in the UK so where am I going to get sun, it's hard enough in the summer let alone the winter.
mjs
If it were that easy! Unfortunately for those who work and live in the north your suggestion is just not realistic. Just a thought...
Me2
I’m deficient in vitamin D. Got put on prescription strength chewable tablets for 8 weeks. My doctor basically said that where I live (central California) and my pigmentation (I am Hispanic) I would never get enough vitamin D even if I were to lie naked outside. This helped me realize how important supplementing with vitamins is.
Ms Hunt
I recently had my blood work done and my dr said I needed 4000 for a month then 2000 after that for the foreseeable future. Why would I suddenly be so low in vitaminD?
kelly-oldways
Hi Ms Hunt, There are many factors that can affect the absorption of nutrients in the body. Your best bet is to talk to your healthcare providers to learn more.
Deb D
I'm curious about this: Exposing mushrooms to UV light causes measurable increases in the vitamin D2 content; amount of vitamin D2 will vary depending on the type of light and duration of exposure. Does this mean that we can buy mushrooms from the grocery store and put them in the sun for a couple of hours and it helps increase the vitamin D levels?
kelly-oldways
Hi Deb, It seems that some people have tried this with some success (https://fungi.com/blogs/articles/place-mushrooms-in-sunlight-to-get-your-vitamin-d) However, since there isn't an easy way to measure the levels at home, we can't really predict what the results would be. Perhaps you could reach out to the brands who sell mushrooms to learn more, and to find out if it is safe to handle their product in that way.
Jacinthe Côté
I just wanted to inform everyone that bakers yeast can naturally produce Vitamin D, similar to humans and mushrooms! Lallemand has developed a process that exposes bakers yeast to UV light and triggers the natural production of its own Vitamin D. Yeast being a vegetarian and natural ingredient, bread made with our VitaD bakers yeast can be a great source of Vitamin D for vegetarians/vegans
diane arms
Never eat any bakers yeast raw. It will harm your liver. People died during prohibition by eating yeast and drinking an acidic juice turning their livers into "stills".
Logics
I find it hard to believe that orange is the only fruit to provide vitamin D in a planet filled with a large variety of fruit and vegetables. If u do ur research, ull notice that every site has the same damn list. I guess, I ll just have to do my research on each and every fruit and vegetable available to get the right answer the answer is being biased by money.
Danyeal
Agree 100%. Their has to be other options.
kelly-oldways
Fortified orange juice is on this list because it's fortified with Vitamin D. Vitamin D is interesting compared with other vitamins because it is produced endogenously from UV rays. Some mushrooms contain vitamin D if they are exposed to UV light, but not all do.
Orchid
Yes there must be a plant source of vitamin D. Read between the lines plant source all plants use sunlight "D" for photosynthesis. Could there maybe, be a connection between Sunlight, Photosynthesis and Vitamin "D"?????????
Bev
I cannot believe that- with the very healthy diet I follow, I have just been prescribed 20,000 iu Vit D tablets twice a week. I grow most of my veg ( therefore out in the garden/ allotment) have tan lines on my arms legs and top of my feet- therefore in direct sunlight, I eat lots of fatty fish, eggs, mushrooms etc HOW can I be deficient??
Kellsang
Does higher Intake of Vitamin D damage any part of our body? And Does Vitamin D helps to cure Parathyroid harmony or Lack of Calcium?
kelly-oldways
According to the NIH, excess sun exposure doesn’t result in vitamin D toxicity, but long term intakes above the tolerable upper limit can. Specifically, the NIH website states, “Most reports suggest a toxicity threshold for vitamin D of 10,000 to 40,000 IU/day and serum 25(OH)D levels of 500–600 nmol/L (200–240 ng/mL)” The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recommend that Americans get enough Vitamin D AND enough calcium, so recommend including foods with calcium in your diet as well (such as dairy products or dark green vegetables). Regarding parathyroid harmony, you will need to speak with your doctor about that.
Ridhi
My vitamin d3 level is 8.1 Is it too low to recover fast? I'm taking vitanova sachets, is it safe?
Hannah-Oldways
Hi Ridhi, We recommend that you talk to your doctor for the best advice about your personal Vitamin D levels and supplement choices.
ANGELINE CHOATE
Suppose to take 50k of vit d weekly but after two doses i am vomiting several times in two weeks. Idont get out in sun so after reading i will try fatty fish and eggs i do drink fresh orange juice daily but amnot going to take vit d anymore vomiting has been dreadful
Eliza B
There is so much vitamin D in vegan foods ! So why vegan are greater risk to obtain vitamin A ? This really don't make sense ..... I am vegan and all my vitamin level are good.
Sunyhia
Do grape's have calcium or vitimin D in them ?
kelly-oldways
Hi Sunyhia, Unfortunately not. Grapes have no Vitamin D and only 15mg calcium ( which is only 0.02% of the recommended daily intake).
Lakshmi U Bhat
hi..i am 40 yrs old and suggested by physician to take vitamin d capsules once in a week. Does it havE ant side effects.. Like vomiting.. Etc.
kelly-oldways
Hi Lakshmi, We don't produce any supplements, so we can't speak to any potential side effects. We highly recommend that you work with your physician or a dietitian in your area to find a plan that works best for you.
Ally
I have just been diagnosed with vit D deficiency. I went to my Dr because I had been losing a brush full of hair a day,so he did a blood test. Is losing hair common
Hannah-Oldways
Hi Ally, we recommend that you speak with your doctor about your personal Vitamin D levels and symptoms.
Maria
Hi, I'm suffering frm severe vitamin D defeciency nd I'm just 18, can't walk properly although in live in an Asian country ate alot of tablets, injections. It's 8.9 out of 10 in blood test. Plzzzz help
Hannah-Oldways
Hi Maria, We recommend that you talk to your doctor for the best advice about your Vitamin D levels and supplement options.
Anonymous
I have low vitamin D and there isn't much sun in the UK for me to absorb. I drink lots of orange juice and eat mushrooms, I can't eat eggs and I drink lots of milk. My vitamin D is just not going up, and I'm not quite sure what to do, oh and I'm allergic to nuts so I can't drink that milk
Hannah-Oldways
We recommend that you speak to your health care provider about your situation to figure out the best solution for you.
Radha
I m fully vegetarian lady but now i m suffering with bone pains dew to lack of vitamin D..what can i do?Plz refer some food and supplements..thanks
Hannah-Oldways
Hi Radha, the best thing you can do is see your healthcare provider and discuss these concerns with them.

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